Water is essential for bioenergy production. Characterized as low carbon technology, crop-based bioenergy technology witnesses rapid development, inevitably putting pressure on global water resources. Therefore, it is crucial to carefully assess bioenergy technology’s overall impact on scarce water source for a sustainable bioenergy future. In this regard, this study aims to evaluate the life cycle water use of bioenergy from agricultural residues via the first pilot moving-bed pyrolysis polygeneration system in China. By using a tiered hybrid life cycle assessment, both direct and indirect water use are calculated. Results show life cycle water use is 3.89 L H2O/MJ and agricultural process dominates the total water use. Scenarios analysis shows different feedstock allocation ratios during agricultural production have striking influence on water use intensity. In addition, the choice of feedstock is another important influential factor. Under the 2020 Scenario in China’s 13th Five Year Plan, if all the bioenergy target could be met by polygeneration the estimated annual water use will be 6.6 billion m3, in magnitude up to around ten times the total water consumption in Denmark in 2013. In global scenario of potential feedstock available in 2060, the estimated water use for bioenergy produced by polygeneration will be 179-369 billion m3. Although the water use intensity of bioenergy production from agricultural residues by polygeneration is lower than that for other biomass conversion pathways, it is still higher than water intensity of conventional fossil energy products. Large-scale bioenergy production will have macroscopic effects on water demand. Finally, suggestions such as selecting high water-efficient biomass feedstock and reinforcing water-saving irrigation management to minimize water use in agriculture stage are proposed.
The changing carbon content of coal consumed in China between 2002 and 2012 is quantified using information from the power sector. The carbon content decreased by 7.7% over this interval, the decrease particularly pronounced between 2007 and 2009. Inferences with respect to the changing carbon content of coal and the oxidation rate for its consumption, combined with the recent information on coal use in China, are employed to evaluate the trend in emissions of CO2. Emissions are estimated to have increased by 158% between 2002 and 2012, from 3.9 Gt y-1 to 9.2 Gt y-1. Our estimated emissions for 2005 are notably consistent with data reported by China in its “Second National Communication” to the UN (NDRC, 2012) and significantly higher than the estimation published recently in Nature. The difference is attributed, among other factors, to the assumption of a constant carbon content of coal in the latter study. The results indicate that CO2 emissions of China in 2005 reported by Second National Communication are more reliable to serve as the baseline for China's future carbon commitments (e.g. those in Paris Agreement of the UNFCCC). Discrepancies between national and provincial statistics on coal production and consumption are investigated and attributed primarily to anomalous reporting on interprovincial trade in four heavily industrialized provinces.
Torrefaction of biomass can reduce its undesirable properties for the subsequent thermochemical application. After separating a Chinese corn stalk into four parts (leaf, stem, root, and cob), torrefaction was performed at temperatures of 200, 250, and 300 °C respectively. The structural and components differences of various parts were analyzed, along with the solid, gas, and liquid products. The study showed that the root was the most sensitive to heat and the cob showed the biggest increase in CO2 and CO yields with the increase temperature, due to their different content of hemicellulose and cellulose. The torrefaction temperature of 250 °C was especially significant for the formation of acids. Liquid product from the leaf was simpler in composition and lower in yield due to higher content of organic extractives and ash. Generally, various parts have different torrefaction properties due to the differences in chemical composition and cellular structure. And with the thermochemical application of biomass were more widely used in the chemical industry especially fine chemical industry, screening and classification may be necessary.
The Harvard-China Project adopted an Open Access policy in September 2017. Most journal articles published henceforth are available in the Harvard University open-access repository, DASH.